Today we were expecting a quiet exit from Uxbridge and a smooth ride into Pickering. We got neither.
As we pulled the bike from the van, we noticed an excited individual with a look of incredulity on his face approaching from the left of the parking lot. “Is it really you? Are you these guys?” he asked, pointing to the Indie88 logo on his sunglasses. He was referring to our billboard win that was sponsored and heavily promoted by Toronto radio station, Indie88. We confirmed that it was indeed us, and he started guffawing and shaking his head in amazement. He was a staunch Indie88 fan and had listened to the station throughout the billboard competition, and had even voted for us to win. We bonded over what a great radio station it is, discussed our favourite DJs, took a few photos and then said our goodbyes before Andrew and Max set off on their ninth day.
Uxbridge is a lovely little town surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Tree lined roads, beautifully tended farms and undulating hills as far as the eye can see. Sadly, today was the first day that the Trans Canada Trail deviated from an old rail line, and instead took the Bakfiets through the hilly landscape and deeply rutted paddocks of the surrounding farmlands. An exhausted Andrew pushed on through the rough terrain, which after a couple of hours unfortunately exited into a major construction site. Although signage declared the road open at one end, by the time he’d advanced a few kilometers it was clear that it should have been closed. They crossed a half-built bridge and ended up on a muddy road suitable for excavators, not a cargo bike. Andrew pushed the bike to our lunch spot (also set up on the construction site) and we got some food into the boys before they tried to make up time on the second leg of the day.
Things definitely improved, and some members of the Pickering Fire Service joined them on bikes to guide them in for the last part of their journey. Moments before the group reached their destination, they came across a fallen tree completely blocking their path. Thankfully the big, strong firemen were able to lift Max and the cargo bike over the tree so they could ride out the last few hundred meters of the day.
The guys from the Fire Service were an awesome bunch. They’d brought t-shirts for Max, Andrew and even ME, and a very substantial donation to our ride. Some of them were wearing muscular dystrophy t-shirts, a demonstration of the fact that MD is the charity of choice for fire departments across Canada. They do loads to raise funds and awareness to support the cause and are also really knowledgeable about the condition. Everybody loves a fireman, but I have to say that now I love them just a little bit more. Before this ride I had no idea about the enormous community aspect to the jobs of police officers, fire fighters and paramedics, but so far all three groups had joined us and made our journey just that little bit more fantastic.
Our second last day was looming and with that came lots of media and additional demands on Andrew’s time. He made the decision to ride about 15 extra kilometers to take some of the pressure off tomorrow morning. This meant that he didn’t finish up until about 7.45pm and when he arrived at the hotel, it was the first time I’d seen him looking really tired. He got a relatively early night, but we could all feel the pressure building as we approached the big city and the end of the big ride. Our energy levels were starting to flag, but not for Max. He was still at his best and having a great old time as the rest of us strategized and organized the remaining couple of days.